A Covenant-Making God
One of the things I have been asked about often is the abbreviated name of Hope’s new denominational home: ECO. It doesn’t seem to fit the full name – A Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians. Here is the reason. The original name was to be “An Evangelical Covenant Order of Presbyterians.” You can see how that would fit “ECO.” But our friends in the Evangelical Covenant Church denomination (ECC) found that name to be too similar to their own. So they asked ECO leaders to change the name and they graciously did.
In my next Hope Alive articles I will focus on the key words in ECO’s denominational name. We begin with “covenant.”
Our God is a covenant-making God. God makes covenants with Noah, with Abraham, with the people of Israel through Moses, and with David. Broadly speaking, covenants have to do with promises made between two parties and stipulated consequences if those promises are not kept. However, in the Bible we see an astonishing development in the idea of covenant-making, through which the steadfast love and mercy of God shine. In our sin-impaired condition we are not capable of keeping our end of the bargain (perfect obedience and faithfulness). Nevertheless, says God, “you shall be my people, and I will be your God” (Ezekiel 36:28). We experience this most clearly through our Lord Jesus who, without sin himself, took the sin of the world (including your sin and mine) upon himself that we might be forgiven. Truly, that is amazing grace from our God who delights in being in relationship with us.
At the heart of a covenant is a personal relationship. ECO has a focus on personal relationships in which leaders are accountable to other leaders and congregations are accountable to other congregations.
Every ECO pastor will be part of a pastoral covenant group with these goals:
- Explore the health of each other’s current ministry.
- Explore the future objectives of each other’s ministry.
- Address challenges and obstacles to meeting those objectives.
- Share best practices and insights.
- Explore each other’s physical, spiritual, relational, and emotional health.
In a similar manner, every ECO session will meet with other ECO sessions in something called Mission Affinity Groups “in order to increase accountability and encouragement and in order to spur one another on toward love and good deeds.”
The “covenant” in A Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians means that leaders and congregations will join in serious, intentional relationships through which they hold themselves accountable to one another. This will be done not in a spirit of bureaucratic regulation but rather for the sake of spiritual growth. So that we can help each other to be the best we can be. So that we can build flourishing churches that make disciples of Jesus Christ.
Pastor David Lenz